As my artist's statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. -- Calvin and Hobbes

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hope and Deliverance

"Princess Grace"

Can you imagine that someone would give up a warm bed to sleep in because the shelter wont allow a little dog? This is the dog. Now you can see why he would choose her over a bed. He is her protector, her best friend, her lifeblood. And she is his.

His name is Albert Grace, and this is Princess, his daily salvation.

I fight back tears each time I think of this duo, with whom I spent quite a bit of time during my trip to Las Vegas in August. They live in the old downtown area, where the old casinos still bring a bit of luck to some. I spent a measly amount of money buying him some bottled water for Princess, gave him some cash and cigarettes, and together, we hung out on the sidewalk, enjoying chili dogs and cokes from Binion's food counter, (which were delicious, by the way.)

Albert and I talked about being homeless at great length, and he shared a few of his darkest moments with me, including his wife dying of cancer many years ago, leading to his homelessness, how he enjoys an occasional shower and bathroom visit at the apartment of a friend, since he can't go in the casinos, and life on the street. "I am person without a home, I am not a criminal. People don't have to be afraid of me. I don't ever ask for money, I just sit here with Princess and we get by. Being homeless is hard, but I have some friends. ..I do have to be careful at night, though, because the bums will sometimes threaten to harm Princess."

The police try to move the vagrants along to keep the area tourist friendly. Like shooing pigeons going to where the bits of food are.

I am not sure whether Princess came before or after his wife's death, but she has been with him ever since. He told me that someone had taken her to the vet recently, and she, too, has been diagnosed with cancer. You may not ever see a more loving relationship than the one between this sweet man and his tiny canine friend.

The street vendors told me they look out for the duo, because they are not "bums" and generous tourists help out with dog food and water. It's true, Albert never asks for a handout. He is only 57, but his years on the street have taken a toll on his body.

My spendthrift trip to experience the lavish decadence of the city that never sleeps brought me instead to the streets where I met the real Vegas. Princess and Albert mark the beginning of probably a year long series about Vegas, called Beautiful People, which will culminate in a show in the Fall of next year.

Look for Albert if you go to Las Vegas, and buy him a chili dog.

The portrait of Princess Grace has been entered into the one word show "Hope" on I invite you to visit the show, see and read my show entry and vote for your favorite!

*This image will be available as a print and on greeting cards, and I am working to make sure the proceeds will directly benefit Albert and Princess Grace, as long as they are still around.


Monday, October 18, 2010

You gotta put in the miles..

"Becky's barefoot trek took her to the old broken bridge, her secret fishing hole. She sat on the edge, concentrating with her tongue sticking out of her pursed lips, and readied her pole. A hawk surveying the stream below, her solitary goal was finding her next fish. At last, she imagined she had found an undiscovered lair of trout, and confidently cast her line in the deep pocket. Her pendulum feet swung like the stale marshmallows on her hook, keeping lazy time and giving her the pleasure of feeling the wind blow through her toes as she settled in for a long session with a bag of sunflower seeds."

I would rather be Michelangelo than DaVinci.

It seems that with any good intention, in order to see it through, you have to put in the effort, and this could take some time. Some time where it seems like not much gets done, where you don't see every day rewards, where you 'put in' but don't see financial gain. Even some time where you wonder if you are fishing in the right spot at all and if you will ever get to fry your fish, or if you will just keep replacing one soggy marshmallow with the next, thinking that a different color might change the fish's taste for it.

Many things, like parking spaces, just appear for me. I have good parking karma. It's a gift. I was listening to the Secret a few years ago and heard another person talking about his parking karma and it made me laugh. The suggestion has been made time after time, that if it is meant to be, it will happen without conflict or stress or difficulty. It will just happen. ..Maybe. Sometimes. (Hey you can dream, right?)

But, if we all just gave up on every good idea because it was going to take some work or time or money or effort, we'd live in an empty world.

We don't live in an age of King Patrons who marvel at our mere intellectual and creative genius, and long to merely be in our presence, so we don't have the luxury of being a DaVinci; more committed to the idea of perfection than tangible results. Never getting anything out where it might risk an imperfect existence, never to be finished, only abandoned. Maybe you want to be reserved in your limitless potential and spend years on just one masterpiece, who am I to argue? It's DaVinci after all! (In fairness to DaVinci, I think he understood his gift of attraction well and he evidently enjoyed being a mentor, scientist and intellectual more than a painter.) However, we DaVincis rarely get our feet wet, and that is my point.

Let's try a new approach. Let's instead think of ourselves as Michelangelos... great productivity machines of magic awesomeness! You see the block of marble and know it's a David waiting to come out!

I think you ought to hope for the big one. I think you should always hold on to that feeling! It's important to believe that greatness is possible. Why would I tell you to torture yourself with dreams that may never happen? Because the alternative is having an idea that never left the paper, or worse, what becomes someone else's Mona Lisa.

Don't know what to do? Well, you know that quote from Something About Mary: "I like meat on a stick! There should be more meats on sticks." I totally agree. Find what is missing and do that!

I knew a man who stated, "I'll never have much in life or be a rich man." This is true.

I believe that I will succeed at anything I put my mind to. Two results are possible. I will succeed or I will find the journey takes me in a different direction than I was expecting. At least I will have tried.

If you don't take the first small step toward something, then you will only live out your years wondering what things might have looked like. Here's something I read in the Artist's Way that made me want to put in the time and earn some band aids:

Q. "Do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to play guitar well?"
A. Yes, the same you'll be if you don't.
So, let's start!1

Have the Grace to be a beginner, and take the first scary small step.2

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly! (except for sky diving, maybe.)

You have to start somewhere. Just begin and see where it takes you.

1,2 Quotes from The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Side of building, Las Vegas, NV


Monday, October 4, 2010

"You make me wanna write!"

I always feel like writing in the Fall. It's my favorite time of year. I think the slightest change in temperature makes me perky and excited, even nostalgic.

The Summer was unrelenting this year. High humidity and temps created a bad biscuit out of me. I fluffed up and got cooked, but then I just sat around all Summer and got stale. A bad biscuit is not worth eating, empty calories and a waste of time. Regardless of what food product I may have resembled, the result was a hardened floury puck which could never result (no matter how much honey I used) in any kind of creative production.

I'm an Earth sign, and I probably need some more water in my life to make my obstinate behavior a little more fluid. The stubborn me said, "Hey, this road block was my idea, so I will just stay here and break out a six pack until the road clears. I prefer not getting a damn thing done for 3 months!" Except it was my road block too, so no one else was going to clear it.

Honestly, it's not that I intended to accomplish nothing, who does that?

My argument could be that I was nourishing an idea, "You mean you can't see the novel that is inside my head? I'm just working on the plot a little more before I write it down!" When you are blocked, anything that involves much more than passive regurgitation is a struggle.

1st step: Acknowledgement. Summer is bad for my productivity. That's when I should be playing outside and dreaming and lying under the stars and forming creative ideas. I am from the Northwest and cooler weather makes me productive. So, if I am to stay in the South, I need to travel during the Summer or get a job doing something mundane, or just do house chores and go to the beach every day. As long as I don't spend another Summer depressed, beating myself up for not painting!

Why am I telling you all this? Because you probably have a season, too. It may even be a day of the week. You have a time of year of when you are better at that creative thing you do. When you are at your worst productive period, may I suggest that there is something else you could be doing that will fulfill you. Some seemingly mindless activity, even, that will give you a sense of satisfaction. Go pull weeds, or caulk, or paint baseboards, or vacuum the ceiling fan.

You know, these blocks may come when we need to refill our creative wells. So, the light tasks can help us to get some dreaming done!

If Fall is not your season, try some chores and spruce up your place. Then, go for a walk and let yourself dream. Swing on swings. Go to the movies. Go to a coffee house at midnight, see a live band, make good food and enjoy it. Discover a wine bar.

Plan ahead to do something 'else'.

The biscuit picture comes from a nice little blog I discovered today on how to make a great buttermilk biscuit! Visit Pinch My Salt for the recipe! (Don't forget the honey)


Things to Ponder

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. -Andy Warhol

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
-Walt Disney
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